LETTER xxvi AN UNEASY CHARYADAR 213 able creak of wooden wheels enlightened me I could not think what was approaching. Actually every village on these plains has one or more buffalo-carts, with wooden wheels without tires, and hubs and axles of enormous size and strength, usually drawn by four buffaloes. A man sits on the front of the cart and drives with a stick, and a boy facing backwards sits on the yoke between the two foremost beasts. He croons a perpetual song, and if this ceases the buffaloes stop. For every added pair (and on the next plain I saw as many as six yoke) there is an additional boy and an additional song. This apparition carried a light wooden frame, which was loaded to a preposterous height with the strong reeds which are used to support the mud roofs, heavily weighted as these are with stacks of fodder. One would think one was in the heart of the Bakh- tiari country and not on a caravan route, from the difficulty of getting any correct guidance as to the road, distance, safety, or otherwise, etc. Sharban has never been this way, and is the prey of every rumour. Be- tween his terror of having to " eat wood " on his return, and his dread of being attacked and robbed of his yalus, he leads an uneasy life, and when, as at Mehemetabad, there is no yard for his animals, he watches all night in the idea that the guards are the " worst robbers of all." I think he has all the Mussulman distrust of arrange- ments made by a woman! Hitherto the guards have been faithful and quiet. I always ask them not to talk after 8 P.M., and I have not once been disturbed by them; and when I walk as usual twice round the camp during the night I always find them awake by their big watch-fires. The village Khan, an intelligent man, spent some time with me in the afternoon. The fields of his village are not manured at all, and the yield is only about tenfold.